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Captured By Aliens: The Search for Life and…
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Captured By Aliens: The Search for Life and Truth in a Very Large Universe (original: 1999; edição: 1999)

de Joel Achenbach (Autor)

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673309,829 (4.11)Nenhum(a)
An analysis of the search for extraterrestrial life reflects on larger issues of science, superstition, and spirituality to examine the elusive question of aliens' existence and discusses Carl Sagan, alien abductions, and other related topics.
Membro:DrPhil1
Título:Captured By Aliens: The Search for Life and Truth in a Very Large Universe
Autores:Joel Achenbach (Autor)
Informação:Simon & Schuster (1999), Edition: First Edition, 416 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
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Captured By Aliens: The Search for Life and Truth in a Very Large Universe de Joel Achenbach (1999)

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Exibindo 3 de 3
Achenbach is a great writer; he knows how to keep nonfiction light yet informative, interesting, and moving along with a story line. Other than a love of science fiction, I had no great urge to find aliens or life on other planets in the real world, but a brief browse at the library convinced me to give this book a try. I'm glad I did. He brings his search for scientific validation down to the level anyone can understand and uses homely images to do so: "Earth is in the Goldilocks position--not too hot, not too cold" (p.104) or "people don't think about biology except when they're losing their hair, gaining too much weight, or suffering from severe constipation...we just glide along, oblivious of the machinery that makes our existence so vivid an experience"(p.295)
I started marking examples to use in this review and then realized I'd be marking most of the book. He uses metaphors to personalize our view of scientists: "Sagan...hacked through many a thicket" (p.23) "...he was bailing out a sinking ship with a pitchfork" (p.100). Or he is tongue-in-cheek in his descriptions "[David Duchovny] could easily have become a tenured Ivy League professor in a musty English department instead of settling for being a millionaire superstar with countless adoring fans and a glamorous wife" (p.171). He can show compassion for some people expressing fringe views "In his story the part that rang truest was the pain" (p 189)--tho often he pokes fun at them, e.g. wearing hats with foil spaceships on top while complaining they aren't being taken seriously
He investigates several different avenues, and just when you think he's sold on a concept (and you are too), he explains why the arguments used, while valid as emotional or, perhaps, spiritual beliefs, are not scientifically valid. Questions about aliens or extraterrestrial life, right now, can only be answered with "No data".
In the end, we are left with many unanswered questions, but an understanding of which kinds of questions can be addressed by science (testable ones); that "we are all searchers and the distinction between the 'serious' and 'silly' searchers is a false one" (p232); that "there is ultimately only one place to go when you want to study life in the universe and get some handle on how it comes into existence...You have to go home, to Earth, to terrestrial biology"(p.291); and that "We always get the future wrong...All we know is that something is going to happen with this species and this planet" (p.338). ( )
  juniperSun | Oct 5, 2016 |

I have to confess my hackles went up as I read the countless power-puffs on the back cover and first few pages of this book: they're all by journalists or prominent authors, none of them by actual, you know, scientists. That, say, Carl Hiaasen or Christopher Buckley thinks a book on the sciences is pretty damn' fine is, to be honest, a somewhat underwhelming accolade, along the lines of an endorsement by Britney Spears or Adam Sandler: what, by contrast, did the editors of Nature think?

Those hackles rose unnecessarily: I have loads of detailed quibbles with the book (it's actually too skeptical about the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe; while that case has been made depressingly persuasively elsewhere, it ain't made here), but overall I thought it was an excellent overview of, in its three parts, (1) CETI/SETI, (2) ufology/ancient astronautism (thinking back, it was probably a bit skimpy on this) and (3) space colonialism/interstellar travel. In the decade since the book appeared some of Achenbach's more timid statements have come to seem quaint -- he clearly thought it'd be a long time before we began to discover much about extrasolar planets -- but that's more to his credit than his detriment (just): better to be cautious than excitable in these fields of speculation.

And there are scores of very pithy observations about the depths of species-suicidal moronism to which our current standards of debate, in which proven reality is regarded as merely a political commodity, have taken us. Here's one:

In a way, she [a UFO nut:] was always going to be the dominant one in the room, because all I had were factoids and semieducated notions from my various conversations with scientists, whereas she had beliefs. She could dismiss twenty-five hundred years of scientific inquiry with a few deadly sentences.

I recommend this book quite a lot.
( )
  JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
A critical look at the alien abduction phenomenon, well researched and easy to read. ( )
  Devil_llama | May 2, 2011 |
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An analysis of the search for extraterrestrial life reflects on larger issues of science, superstition, and spirituality to examine the elusive question of aliens' existence and discusses Carl Sagan, alien abductions, and other related topics.

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